It’s a Business, Sort of

“Damn I want this day to be over.” The Passer says as he looks at his phone to check the time. “These people are driving me crazy.”

“Yeah.” I say and shake my head. “They’re a lot of sweethearts here.”

“I’ve had so many people go through the whole process of picking out their favorites, deciding which size they want, choosing the frames, and then when they see how much it will cost saying;Nah, we just want the Freebie.  Damn I hate that.”

We’re at a Shoot that might have been good, if we were shooting it in three or four more years.  As it is, we shot this location two years ago, and there is just flat not going to be enough interest in a place filled with old folks that had a book that recently.  And this Shoot is one of the walking dead Shoots were everyone hobbles in the door groaning that they’re only doing this for the Book.

Unless you’re one of those Super Coupon nuts, you go to a Supermarket to BUY stuff and if everyone came in with coupons worth a few hundred dollars, the store wouldn’t stay in business too long.  Every business has some product or service that they exchange money for;and that’s how they stay in business. The Company, however,  has always been so much in love with The Freebie that we have entire Shoots were people are jaw-on-the-floor shocked that we want them to PAY for something.

So, those of us at The Company, a division of The New Company, have to hope and pray that things will be better now.  The good people at the Home Office who ran The Company into the ground and out of business are still carrying on as if they are Alexander Haig;they THINK they are in charge.

Change is in the air.  The PreSellers are no longer paid on how many butts they get in the seats, but on a percentage of sales commission like the rest of us.   But we still have a few older Shoots on the books, like the one I had the good fortune to shoot this week where everyone wants the Book and damned few people want any portraits.

One of my favorite shows is Undercover Boss, where the clueless people who run big businesses are shocked, just shocked, by how much the file and rank hates management and the people they have been hired to serve.  Hey, this is America, we’re not big on that whole serving anyone business.  As a general rule I tend to side with the front line employees who complain about who they work for and who they work with.  Work, as a general rule, is not all that much fun.

I’m a good Photographer and I have chosen to continue working in Assembly Line Portraits.  I could throw up my hands and leave, and I may yet walk away from The New Company, but for now, it’s the best Assembly Line Portrait Company going.  It’s clear that the way The Company works it’s Directory Promotions could use a little tweaking, but it’s still better than the way the New Company runs them.

The Company needs to refocus and retool everything they do to promote our business.  The Company LOVES the Book, it’s ALL about the Book-and the Book is a FREEBIE!!!!  The Company wants to pretend that it’s McDonalds selling Happy Meals by promoting the toy instead of the food.  Those days are over, we have to tell people that our business is selling portraits.  We need to either Charge a fee for the Book or make the book free to anyone who BUYS portraits, not just give it to anyone who can hobble through the door and glare into the camera.

I’ve worked for other Companys that charged for the Book and didn’t offer any Freebies at all.  Every Shoot could be turned into a Fundraising Shoot where the money from the book goes to the Organization-we still don’t get any money, but the damned people walking in the door KNOW they are going to be SPENDING some money.

I had a couple of pretty good weeks at the start of the year.  I was at a good location with a good Passer.  I took the same portraits I take every week.  The same portraits I have taken for the past few years. My portraits sell, when there are Subject who want to buy portraits.  My weakness is dealing with people that need to be sold, that want to see the best portrait they have ever had taken, and want to pay as little as possible for it once they have it.

I don’t spend a lot of time talking to the Subjects.  I don’t tell them to say Fuzzy Pickles or Whiskey or Grand-babies.  I try to get them positioned correctly in the frame.  I try to get the lighting the way I like it.  I try to make the background pop.  The weak link in every portrait remains the Subject.  And it’s not their fault, it’s the PreSeller’s fault.  If the new pay scale stops the Bookers from booking Bad Shoots, than the Good Old Days may well be returning.

The PreSellers no longer has any reason to Book every place that will let us in the door.  They now have every reason to Book Shoots where people have money and are willing to spend it.  Places that may have never had a Shoot, places that aren’t on the PreSeller’s auto-responder to remind those Dud accounts that it’s been two years and they need a new Book.  I know it’s scary, Guys, but try getting us some New Accounts.

Or, you can keep booking these Two Year Shoots and starve to death, either plan works for me.

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